In the global marketplace for professional content management systems, WordPress accounts for between 40 and 50 percent of the field of website content creation systems. This popularity makes it easy to use by everybody, whether they’re setting up a personal blog, an online storefront or the nexus of a multinational corporation’s internet presence. With a diverse array of plugins and add-ons that can be used to customize the website in virtually any way one can imagine, it is hardly surprising that WordPress is so popular among both individual users and larger groups needing an internet presence. This applies as to a hobbyist’s geology blog as it is a technologically savvy Girl Scout troop’s website or a major media conglomerate’s centerpiece showing off their latest releases to the entire world and keeping the market excited for their newest products. WordPress is also known as one of the most friendly user experience and perfect for search engine optimization.
However, this popularity and ease of use tend to make WordPress easy for hackers to exploit as well. A wide range of cyber attacks have been perpetrated against WordPress by hackers across the globe, based in places from the United States to the far off Ukraine, with new attacks seemingly emerging monthly. Because so many websites rely on the WordPress platform to function at top efficiency, this makes it a tempting target for professional hackers or hacker groups with an agenda that calls for large-scale havoc.
Sympathizers of Islamic militant groups have managed to deface some WordPress pages with calls for terroristic activities, and while actual links to fundamentalist militant groups are rare in these attacks, nobody wants their page damaged with calls for violence. In a similar vein, many attacks have been perpetrated by hackers who are trying to run extortion schemes against companies that catch up multiple businesses and individuals in the process. Other hackers may simply wish to send a message to a particular group of people, be they a corporation, a government or a rival group of hackers and don’t particularly care who gets caught up in the blast radius.
However, there are reasons why a website should use WordPress to defend against cyber attacks. The simple fact is that the programmers behind WordPress are aware of these vulnerabilities. Every day they test each new iteration of the WordPress software platform for vulnerabilities, patching up these vulnerabilities and then searching for more vulnerabilities until they have created a brand new patch for the WordPress software ready to be freely distributed across the Internet to all users. However, to use these patches, a website owner must put some effort into downloading and installing these patches on their version of the WordPress software. Not only that, a having your website hacked by one of these groups will hurt your search engines rankings. There are a few ways to prevent all this, but in the end, it’s an open internet, and everything that is online can be hacked.
While WordPress tries to make this process as easy and uncomplicated as possible, website owners should not put off installing patches for WordPress programs as these patches tend to include not only improvements in functionality and appearance but also important updates fixing recently discovered vulnerabilities. Because WordPress’ programmers identify vulnerabilities before hackers do, these patches are more of a prevention than a cure.
Another matter of note is WordPress plugins. One should be careful what WordPress plugins they install. Not all WordPress plugins are equally secure, and indeed, since not all of these plugins are made by WordPress’ programmers, they are not as rigorously tested. Thus, it is not uncommon for security vulnerabilities to be exploited in plugins rather than in the WordPress software itself. A quick Google search should show pretty quickly if there are any known vulnerabilities in a plugin you’re considering installing, so do some research before installing any plugins.
It can also help only to install plugins that you need rather than just any plugin you see. Because security vulnerabilities in plugins are not always discovered quickly, any plugin can be a vulnerability in your WordPress based site, meaning that the fewer plugins you install, the less likely your site is to be vulnerable to hackers. While some plugins can be useful to website owners, excessive plugins can open holes in your security which will always be disastrous down the road. Fortunately, WordPress’ programmers also send out frequent updates on the vulnerabilities of plugins for their platform, so one should pay attention to their messages.